Throw Like A Girl

Saturdays With Shivani

As the IPL advances, one can clearly see how BCCI has shoved in four matches of the ‘Women’s T20 Challenge’ almost as an afterthought. The stepmotherly treatment accorded to the three teams cannot be a casual oversight. While the men’s teams deserve ‘at least’ a day’s break and most matches begin in the evening, the women have no such luxury.

Harmanpreet Kaur’s team Supernovas plays against Trailblazers on the evening of May 23, and then again take on team Velocity on May 24 at 3.30 PM. The matches are being played in Pune and I don’t have to tell you how cruel the weather there is.

Assuming that the first match ends close to midnight, the players barely get 15 hours or so to rest, recover and be ready for the next one. This is not the first time it’s happening. If this year it is Harmanpret Kaur’s team, last year it was Mithali Raj’s who had suffered because of this inhuman scheduling. As expected, the entire team was bowled out for 47 and lost the second match by nine wickets. Mithali Raj had gone on record in the post-match conference saying, “As far as playing in the afternoon is concerned, we haven’t even got 12 hours to recover from yesterday’s game. So clearly yes, it has been difficult for the girls to prepare themselves and come back and play the afternoon game after playing last night.”

This shouldn’t have happened on Saurav Ganguly’s watch. As a former cricketer who has played enough international cricket, he was expected to understand how impractical and cruel this schedule was. Not even a whimper let alone a roar from the royal Bengal tiger, as he’s called, is disappointing. I wish he had looked out for the players. I also wish the men’s teams had extended some support but that’s probably expecting too much.

I am not going to rant about it any further because by the time you read this, the matches would be all wrapped up by the teams. Besides I don’t want to insult the grace these women players show every time they face discrimination. In the past, they have calmly accepted that the men’s teams are crowd pullers and fetch more money to the board, hence justifying the pay disparity. I shall leave that discussion for another day.

Today I have (an)other bone(s) to pick. Isn’t it unfair to the teams to be not given a fair opportunity to play their game under favourable circumstances? How difficult was it to come up with a more human schedule? This is not a rag tag team of gully cricket. These players have jaw dropping records to their name.

For the BCCI, a body that only understands the commerce of the game, I have a question. Doesn’t it realise that the awe-inspiring credentials of these women not only lend credibility to the game but is also an opportunity to make Women’s cricket commercially more viable? Why are women always made to jump hoops? Why is it not enough for them to be as good as boys?

I know that these questions would be reduced to being rhetorical but I hope that next year when they replace this ‘Women’s T20 Challenge’ with women’s IPL, they accord it the legitimate status it deserves. Meanwhile, let me assure you if I hear even a hint of derision in the phrase ‘you throw like a girl!’ then you’ve had it.

Dr. Shivani Salil